How had she let
is come to this--she should have killed him weeks ago. Now
it was too late, her weakness had destroyed them all, they
were all going to die. Buffy's head hurt where he'd knocked
her unconscious, and her wrists ached in the hard steel of
the manacles, but no pain could equal that in her heart. If
only she hadn't loved him quite so much she might have been
able to destroy the monster which delighted in her crumbling
will, but he still wore the face she carried in her heart.
He wasn't her Angel, but he wasn't different enough to let
her separate the two.
Angelus stood before her an evil smile
on his face and she barely had the courage to look back.
"Had enough of the game, Buffy?"
he asked and laughed at her.
"Go to hell, creep," she spat
back with the last of her resolve.
"Oh, but we've just got to the fun
bit," he returned as if he was talking about nothing
more than a hand of poker. "This idea just came to me,
and I knew it was perfect. Tell me, what did you think that
first night when Willow disappeared?"
She just glared at him, he would not
get the last satisfaction from her, not yet. Her defiance
seemed to please him and he laughed again.
"You're strong, I'll give you that,"
he said calmly, "but the end game is upon us. Did you
know you're going to beg me to kill you, you're going to actually
ask me to do it. Of course I'll oblige, but I don't think
we'll let you have peace. Spike's been getting just a little
jealous over Dru lately," the vampire continued, "and
I want a new playmate."
Buffy bit her lip and forced back the
"I brought them all here for you,
Buffy," Angelus continued with a manic grin, "and
I'm going to go through them one by one. They're going to
die, and you're going to watch until you ask me to take you
instead. The Slayer will be gone from this pitiful town, and
then we can have some real fun."
Giles had given her the speech about
how she was the most important, that she had to live, had
to strive to survive and slay the vampires. That had been
the afternoon before he was taken, the afternoon before her
world had finally come crashing down as her last two friends
seemed to vanish off the face of the earth. There were all
here-- Giles, Xander, Willow, Cordelia, Oz, even Jenny. He'd
stalked them one by one, no matter how Buffy tried to protect
them he had found a way through, and now they adorned the
walls like so much meat. Two only person she had been able
to save was her mother who was chasing a piece of non-existent
art across the country.
Angel had strung them from chains hung
from the tops of the walls in a sick imitation of art. What
he'd done to them other than that Buffy couldn't be sure,
but they were all standing there like zombies. They reacted
to nothing, and it appeared that the chains were more of a
joke than anything else.
"Come a little closer and I'll show
you how far the Slayer is gone," where the courage came
from Buffy could never say, but she had to hang on to something.
For all she knew her friends were already
dead, like Jessie had been, and this was all just part of
the game. Would they all suddenly come to life and reveal
their true faces, would that be the final push towards insanity?
Maybe if she could get free, if she could just pull the chains
from the wall she could save them, or at least destroy the
monster that held them.
Her thoughts were all muddled, and ideas
flowed through her mind like rain. She knew she was on the
verge of panic.
"The Watcher I think," Angelus
said, ignoring her outburst completely, "the meddling
In front of Buffy's terrified gaze he
walked over to where Giles stood. With a flick of his wrist
he released the restraints on the Englishman and just stared
at the empty face for a while.
"I think I prefer him like this,"
the vampire finally decided. "Come watcher, there's not
a very good view from over here."
Buffy had never realised quite how powerful
a vampire Angelus was, not until she watched her mesmerised
friend follow the fiend meekly to the centre of the room.
The Master had been old and powerful, but it wasn't age that
gave this demon his power, it was the total maliciousness
he held, the fact that he was completely evil.
Giles stopped facing Buffy, his face
as empty as glass, and Angel walked behind him.
"Are you ready, love," the
vampire asked and ran one claw down Giles' neck, "ready
to watch your friend's die."
Fangs bared he slowly lowered his mouth
towards the librarian's neck, and it was as if the world was
going in slow motion for Buffy. She wanted to be strong, she
wanted to break free and save her friends, but the steel was
hard against her skin. Under the force of the reality her
"No," she screamed at the top
of her lungs and the tears she'd been trying so hard to hold
back began to flow. "No," she sobbed, "please
Angelus was actually looking a little
surprised when he brought his demon eyes up to meet her gaze.
His animalistic features faded and left the facade of humanity
in their place.
"So soon my love?" he said,
walking out from behind his victim and wandering towards Buffy.
"I had expected you to last out longer than this."
The stress had been eating at Buffy ever
since that first moment she knew Angel was gone. It had been
building, and over the last week it had burrowed itself into
the deepest recesses of her mind. The Slayer truly was on
the edge, and she couldn't bare it anymore.
"Don't hurt them," she pleaded
as if it would do some good, "take me but don't hurt
She felt his fingers on either side of
her face, and he pulled her chin up slowly. His face was serious
for once, almost contemplative.
"You really think they will leave
here alive," he said quietly. "If you give yourself
to me you think I will let them live?"
It seemed to be a genuine question. She
just gazed into his eyes for a moment and knew that whatever
the truth was, she couldn't face it.
"Please," was all she could
A smile slowly broke on his face, and
there was all the evil there, but as Buffy watched she could
see a strange kind of love. She had surrendered, she had given
up the fight, and he revealed in his victory, and yet he did
love her. As his features shifted back to their demonic form
the pain stabbed at her heart as she remembered the Angel
she had lost, but she could still look at him. Very slowly
he bent his head towards her and she held her breath in anticipation.
"You know I've been waiting a long
time for this," the voice came from behind Angelus and
Buffy didn't believe her ears.
Suddenly the vampire holding her was
grabbed from behind and went flying across the room. Buffy
forgot to breathe as she saw who had rescued her, and her
mind screamed that she could not possibly be seeming this.
There in front of her was Angel, the real Angel. He was dressed
in old fashioned clothes, and his hair was slightly longer
than his vampiric counter part. As she gaped, Buffy realised
that she was seeing the man that had been before the vampire,
and he smiled at her.
"Hold on," he said quietly
and then turned to where he'd thrown Angelus. "You know
you were on the right track keeping Buffy out of the loop,
just going after her friends. You have no idea how hard it
was trying to get you to go with this plan, actually making
you go for Buffy directly."
Angelus was looking confused and angry.
"Oh I've been around since Valentine's
day," Angel explained to his counterpart, "but I
couldn't do anything, not until you were about to kill Buffy.
You shouldn't listen to little voices in your head, they're
bad--I learnt that a long time ago."
That tipped the vampire over the edge
and he launched himself at the human form, pushing Giles'
still figure from the centre of the room as he did. The librarian
went sprawling towards the wall and Angelus passed straight
"Neat trick isn't is," Angel
said as his opponent came to a skidding halt, "you see
I'm only solid when I want to be."
The vampire turned and Angel threw a
right hook. There was supernatural strength behind the blow
and for the second time Angelus took a trip through the air.
Buffy mind still wasn't quite sure she
wasn't just hallucinating, but Angel's words stuck in her
thoughts, and she used them to pull back her scattered sanity.
She anchored on her love for the man before her and she didn't
let doubt even begin to form.
"Your not going to hurt anyone else,"
Angel stated firmly as Angelus picked himself up, "I
want my body back and I'm going to take it. No gypsy curses,
no charms, no spells, just you and me."
The vampire actually laughed.
"You can't beat me," he said
positively, "this body is mine and you'll never have
"Eighty years ago you'd have been
right," Angel returned, "a human soul is no match
for a demon, not without a little help, but I've been fighting
you for a long time. I'm not exactly what you would call a
normal soul anymore. If I was I definitely wouldn't be here."
Angelus still smiled.
"Then come, little man," he
said coldly and beckoned to his adversary, "come and
meet your end."
Buffy saw Angel smile at the invitation
and he walked towards the vampire.
"Just one thing I think I should
do first," he said as they were nose to nose and he snapped
The chains dropped off Buffy's wrists,
and off those of her friends. Willow fell over, and the Slayer
realised that her companions were no longer under Angelus'
influence. She saw Xander move to catch Cordelia, and Oz was
dazedly trying to help Willow. Nobody seemed particularly
aware of their surrounding, but Buffy couldn't move to help
them as her attention fixed on both versions of Angel.
The vampire reached out and grabbed his
adversary, and this time his claws found a hold. Angel responded
in kind and the two were locked together.
"Mine," Angel said with total
commitment and pushed Angelus against the wall.
The demon snarled, "Never,"
he spat back.
It was the strangest fight Buffy had
ever seen and she knew that more was going on than she could
perceive. The two combatants were stuck in a strange pose
as strength battled against strength, holding them in a peculiar
"You can't win, demon," Angel
hissed at his opponent, "my will is stronger than yours."
"Delusions never helped anyone,"
Angelus replied with a feral smile, and as if to prove his
point he spun them round, ready to slam Angel into the wall.
The plan would have worked except that
Angel dissolved straight into the wall. The only thing the
vampire achieved was skinning his own knuckles as he was forced
to release the suddenly insubstantial individual. For a second
it was as if Angel was gone, he disappeared into the wall
completely, and there was no indication of where he had gone.
"You don't win that easily,"
Angel spoke as he stepped out of the brick a few feet from
where he had entered.
His arms grabbed Angelus in a head lock
and the vampire spat curses. This time when the demon spun
into the wall Angel was solid and crashed into it as if he
was a real person, but he didn't let go.
"You lose," he said in a voice
that bore no argument.
Just for a moment the vampire believed
those words and at that instant he was lost. Angel vanished
completely, and Angelus screamed in pain and rage. The cry
crescendoed and spiralled to an unnatural height and then
is died completely. Angel or Angelus, whoever it was fell
to the ground and didn't move.
Buffy didn't know what to do. She wanted
to believe what she had seen, she really wanted it to be true,
but she had to be sure. Her bag was lying in the corner where
Angelus must have thrown it when he brought her in and she
went to it slowly. She picked out a stake and with her heart
in her mouth she walked over to the still vampire. Gingerly
she pushed him onto his back and just looked down at him.
She was totally focused, the sounds of her friends trying
to figure out exactly what was going on barely registered
on her at all.
After a few seconds the vampire moved,
and with a groan he opened his eyes. He looked up at her as
she stood over him, stake in hand, and she stared into his
eyes and just knew.
"Remind me not to hit myself quite
so hard," he said quietly.
"Angel," she cried in delight
and then followed suit literally by bursting into tears.
She fell to her knees, and forcibly drew
him off the floor into a fierce hug.
"Could someone please explain,"
she heard Xander say and couldn't help beginning to giggle.
It was a thin hysterical sound, but it
was the closest she had come to a real laugh in a very long